On Monday, September 10, members of the NDDC Board paid a visit to the Quarterback Club in Northfield to congratulate owner Dale Finger on the 50th anniversary year of the restaurant. We had a fine time listening to stories of the restaurant’s history and taking pictures for posterity.
The Quarterback Club was originally part of a 20-store franchise organization that was founded by a group of Minnesota investors including some of the early Minnesota Vikings football players. The Northfield store was opened in the spring of 1968. Dale started working there as a high school student ten years later and eventually bought the restaurant in the early 80s. He’s had a successful 40-year run with no end in sight. He told us that many folks predicted his demise with the explosion of fast food restaurants in Northfield during the 80s and 90s.
First, they said that Kentucky Fried Chicken would do him in. Didn’t happen. Then they said that McDonald’s would sink him. Nope! Next, Hardee’s, Burger King and Wendy’s. He survived them all. Kentucky Fried Chicken even opened a second time in Northfield just a couple of years ago. That didn’t work out so well either. They closed less than 12 months into their run.
Dale told us that his secret to success can be found in the following four words: “Good food. Good service.” Perhaps another reason is the dedicated service of his employees. We learned that Steve and Lorie Estrem have worked at the restaurant for more than 45 years! They started at the Quarterback Club before Dale did and they stayed with him after he became their employer. That’s an amazing commitment!
Jim Bohnhoff’s contribution to downtown Northfield’s visual appeal through his historic signage has spanned decades. Among his recent projects: three signs for the Northfield Public Library. A month ago I took photos of him and Howie Holt installing the sign at the Division St. entrance:
Last week, after a mini-photo shoot of him with Library Director Teresa Jensen, I interviewed him about how he got started with historic signage and how he approaches each project:
I then took photos of him with 22 of his current signs along Division between 3rd & 4th streets and on Bridge Square. Watch the 14-minute video, see the gallery of 30 photos below, and visit his Jim Bohnhoff Design website.
This week I went along with a welcoming delegation from the NDDC to pay a visit to Downtown Northfield’s newest dining venue,Smoqehouse. Owners Andy and Heidi Kubes opened Smoqehouse on March 15th at 212 Division St. in the Archer House River Inn and have quickly generated a steady stream of daily patrons. Smoqehouse is a fast casual eatery featuring handcrafted sandwiches with smoked pork, chicken and beef, salads and soups. The café in Northfield is the second location for Smoqehouse. Andy and Heidi located their first restaurant in Faribault, Minnesota in the fall of 2015. Foodie magazine HeavyTable.com called their porchetta sandwich “one of the best sandwiches in the state.” Smoqehouse uses ingredients from local sources like Downtown Northfield’s own Brick Oven Bakery and Northfield Olive Oils and Vinegars.
The restaurant occupies the Archer House space formerly used by Bittersweet Café. However, diners who are familiar with the previous tenant won’t recognize the space. Andy told us that they basically gutted the space and rebuilt it from a bare shell, doing much of the work themselves. They separated the kitchen and order counter from the seating areas and traffic seems to flow much more smoothly with the new floor plan. Future enhancements include craft beer and possibly wine in the coming months. Smoqehouse offers takeout catering and occasionally operates a food truck during the summer as well.
Smoqehouse is open Monday – Saturday from 11am-7pm. They’re closed on Sunday.
NDDC Board members visited our local newspaper, the Northfield News, for the 12th monthly session of 2011. A bit of disclosure, Sam Gett, Publisher of the Northfield News, is a member of the NDDC board.
The owner of the News, Huckle Publishing, Inc. / Mainstream Publications, LLC, employs about 150 people in Minnesota. There are 15 to 20 people in the Northfield downtown office and 40 to 60 people at the Northfield uptown printing plant; there are a total of 10 to 15 full-time employees in Northfield.
Sam, on a personal level, is very satisfied with Northfield. The company has papers in Faribault, Owatonna, Waseca, Kenyon, Lonsdale, St. Peter, Le Sueur, and Le Center. He says Northfield is the regional standard for civic aspiration and that most of the people in other towns are envious of our vitality. He loves the location and loves being downtown. Continue reading NDDC Board Visits the Northfield News→